ELLE combed through all of the big names, little-knowns, legends, come-back artists and soon-to-be buzz bands headed to Austin for the annual South By Southwest music festival and came up with this list of can’t misses that might be worth losing your place in line at Fiona Apple for:
Everyone from Adele to Jack White has lauded this throw-back rootsy blues quintet. The vintage rock is held together by Shakes front woman Brittany Howard’s vocals, whose soulful rasps and cathartic wails define the group’s sound. Warm-up jam: The sunny, mellowed “I Found You”
Sharon Van Etten
This Brooklyn singer/songwriter broke out this year with her album Tramp and more specifically the remarkable single “Serpents. Her spin on direct, autobiographical rock and subtly venomous alto makes her worth the wait in line.
Warm-up jam: The melodic, “I’m Alright”
London-based sisters Hannah and Collete Thurlow specialize in rrriot girl/punk inspired gloom pop reminiscent. Collete’s misery-steeped vocals will remind you of Shirley Manson—dreary in a truly infectious way. Catch them before they open for the xx later this year.
Warm-up jam: The moody, guitar-heavy “On a Wire”
Magnetic Detroit MC Danny Brown had such a big year—he was named one of Spin’s Best Hip-Hop Albums of the Year, earned a spot on the XXL Freshman List, and toured with Das Racist—that we’ll excuse the boastful song title “Greatest Rapper Ever.” His high-energy shows and clever, occasionally filthy lyrics prove that he might be on his way.
Warm-up Jam: “Need Another Drink”
The legendary Lionel Richie is set to make his first ever appearance at SXSW during Billboard’s annual showcase. He’ll perform some new songs from his forthcoming album Tuskogee (March 26th) but we don’t need a reminder why he’s once, twice, three, times a performer.
Warm-up Jam: Famed 80’s ballad, “Hello”
This duo blends the best of cheerful, summery pop: synth-heavy riffs over poly-rhythmic tribal beats for an obsessively listenable album. Perfect tunes for the BBQ & Beer parties they’re headlining in ATX.
Warm-up Jam: “Yes Way”
This year’s release America Give Up earned this Minneapolis group some attention (and a few comparisons to The Strokes). The nihilistic rockers don’t care if you like their throw-back, guitar-heavy “beach-thrash,” but you absolutely will.
Warm-up Jam: “This One’s Different”
Though already established, the solid sophomore album from this Brooklyn’s beloved noise-pop duo demonstrated a new fearlessness, more guitar-shredding and plenty of mosh-pit moments for the metal-lite set.
Warm-up Jam: “Comeback Kid”
Cleveland’s lo-fi indie rock band proved they could rock a little bit harder this year thanks to a foray into listenable pop/punk territory.
Warm-Up Jam: No Future/No Past
Elizabeth Harper layers her delicate vocals over drum machines and synths for unique and thought provoking dance music.
Warm-up Jam: The quirky electro ballad “Keep You”